Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - If you have the “Alzheimer’s gene,” also known as ApoE-E4, chances are you’ll develop the disease.
But a new Australian study finds that having a high amount of Amyloid, or “plaques” in the brain, may actually put you more at risk.
Dr. Brian Appleby did not take part in the study, but treats Alzheimer’s disease at the Cleveland Clinic.
"One of the reasons I like the study so much is that it takes the focus off of that gene. It's a risk gene. Not everybody who has that form of the gene gets the illness. And again, half the people that don't even have that gene get Alzheimer's. So, it is a predictive factor, but again, only predictive for half of the population that gets Alzheimer's disease. This study shows that Amyloid itself can be used as a predictor across the whole population,” he said.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne studied 141 people. The participants' average age was 76.
They took memory tests, underwent brain imaging, and were tested for the ApoE gene.
Results show that after 18 months people with more brain plaques at the start of the study had up to 20 percent greater decline on the memory tests than those who had fewer brain plaques, regardless of whether they carried the ApoE gene or not.
Researchers hope the study leads to a better understanding of the development of early Alzheimer’s disease or potential plaque-targeting therapies.
"Amyloid accumulation in normal people that don't have subjective cognitive symptoms is pertinent, important, and we can study it objectively, possibly giving these types of treatments earlier when they'll make a difference,” he said.